One of the joys of parenting is having the opportunity to mess with your children. I always wanted to be like Calvin’s dad (from Calvin & Hobbes) when my children were young, for example. It’s no wonder Calvin has such a unique perspective on reality when his dad explains that the sun is really only the size of a quarter and that we know how much weight bridges can take by driving progressively heavier trucks over them until they fall down.
But that only lasts while they’re still
Entertaining Young Persons
I’m discovering a new, related, joy as my kids enter adolescence. I might, if I were pretentious, call my new hobby "forming their taste", but I’d just as soon have the word with the bark on (as Georgette Heyer’s characters would put it) and call it what it is: indoctrination. I have the opportunity, as they begin exploring the worlds of art and entertainment, of expounding at length on those things I consider interesting or of value. The result is gratifying and evident in such things as Teleri’s latest school paper (a research paper this time, so I put it up in its own file).
I half expect to be brought up on charges of child abuse for things like celebrating Pratchett’s birthday yesterday with all the kids. Even so, I can’t express how fun it is to see Teleri devouring his latest, even if that means she becomes competition for the family copy (hey, being able to take her in a fair fight has to be useful sometimes, right?).
Our newest tradition, for which I fully expect to spend time in the hell of syrup and fire-ants, has been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the older kids. We haven’t set an age on the tradition, or anything. When we think they’re mature enough to be capable of rational discussions of sex and violence and moral agency, we watch our DVDs with them. We have a similar (sometimes concurrent) tradition with Firefly.
This is certainly a controversial tradition. I mean, both shows have sex and violence and many lifestyle choices we are officially against. The thing is, on a deeper level, I think that both shows are also deeply moral. They explore things like family, the nature of evil, and doing what you believe is right even when doing so is likely to be both hard and painful.
Which isn’t to say that we hand them the DVDs with a jaunty "Knock yourselves are still parents and we have a natural right, obligation even, to be pedantic whenever fun threatens to obscure important life-lessons.
out." and hope for the best. We watch them together and discuss things we think are important or interesting. This probably robs some of the fun out of it for the kids, but hey, we
And heaven knows that Joss Whedon didn’t flinch from difficult moral choices, so our discussions are wide-ranging. It isn’t likely that any of us will face the particular choice between sending a loved one to hell and saving the world, but there are plenty of relevant topics there (starting with "love isn’t always enough" and "deus non machina"). I guess what I’m saying is that we palliate our consciences by pointing out the obvious. Hey, they’re kids. They might not connect all the right dots; my favorite of which remains "if you have sex before you are married, your boyfriend will turn into a monster."